By Brianne Dela Cruz; Gather & Grow
Thanksgiving will be different this year.
A day usually filled with loved ones gathering from near and far likely won't be the scene for many. Instead, we’ll share moments of laughter and storytelling over video chats while the turkey bakes in the oven and cranberries bubble quietly on the stove. Many of us will cook for those most immediate in our lives instead of whole hosts of extended family and friends.
The thought of this resonates a twinge of sadness within me. I’ll dearly miss catching up with my cousins while my aunts gossip in the kitchen and my uncles yell at football players on TV. I’ll miss the warm doughy hugs of my grandmother, chasing my nephews around the backyard, and vying for countertop real estate in order to make my sweet potatoes before the dinner bell rings. I’ll miss hearing all the clinks and clanks of glassware as toasts are made and meals are gobbled up. Most of all, I’ll dearly miss the greeting hugs, the stories of gratitude from each person at the table, and the post-dinner snuggles near the fire. It’s the human touch from those only seen once each year that I’ll miss most.
While this version of my boisterous family’s Thanksgiving may not be possible this year, I envision a different sort of celebration that is no less sweet. This year’s holiday will be an intimate affair. It will present the opportunity for each of us to tune in more intently to those in the room. Without the noise and distractions of a bustling home, we’ll be able to slow down and be more present.
We’ll have time to ask questions and listen to answers, to look and truly see, and to make deeper, more meaningful connections. If you ask me, this Thanksgiving will be truly unforgettable.
To make the most of our time spent connecting with loved ones, I’m sharing a virtually effortless recipe that is a showstopper on the menu. This cast iron baked sweet potato recipe with pecan crumble topping is one of my family’s most favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. It’s the side that everyone wants two servings of, in addition to the recipe card before they leave. The toasted pecan and brown sugar topping creates an almost candied effect and a delicious crunch in contrast to the mashed potatoes. This dish is such a favorite it makes each dinner guest question whether they want pumpkin pie for dessert or just more sweet potatoes.
Cast Iron Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Crumble Topping
Servings: 8 | Prep Time: 30 min | Cook Time: 60 min | Total Time: 1.5 h
Sweet Potato Ingredients
- 3 ½ cups mashed yams/sweet potatoes (about 3 medium to large potatoes)
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- ½ cup cream
- ¼ cup softened butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ tsp nutmeg
Pecan Crumble Topping Ingredients
1 ⅛ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
⅓ cup melted butter
1 ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350*.
- Cut potatoes in large chunks and boil until soft; about 20 minutes.
- While potatoes are boiling, mix together all ingredients for pecan crumble topping in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- When potatoes are soft, remove skin, then mash.
- Mix eggs, cream, butter, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg with mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl.
- Scoop into a 12” cast iron skillet.
- Scoop pecan topping on top of sweet potatoes and spread evenly.
- Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until bubbly and topping is lightly browned.
Brianne Dela Cruz is a master gardener, wild forager, campfire foodie, and acclaimed writer and photographer. From her home in Salt Lake City, she teaches online gardening and foraging courses for modern folks and budding naturalists as well as hosts seasonal community gatherings. Brianne's blog and online school, Gather & Grow, is a community of folks exploring the intersection between nature and personal growth by discovering ways to slow down and nourish themselves with nature.